By Christine Verguson

Those of us who live in Huddersfield may sometimes take the fantastic scenery that surrounds the town for granted. But that cannot be said of Rob Vincent, a former chief executive of Kirklees Council.

Rob’s experience of living in the Colne Valley for more than 30 years has led him not only to explore its countryside but to discover the extent to which the history of the valley is also reflected in its landscape.

Now Huddersfield Local History Society has published Colne Valley: A History of the Pennine Landscape which reflects both Rob’s exploration of the valley over the years and his extensive research.

Rob said: “I didn’t set out to write a book! I had an urge to express what I found so engrossing and so satisfying in the valley.

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“I knew that the form of the landscape had a deep effect on me, and I knew too the way in which our home, New Ing Farm, had been shaped by the valley’s dual farming and textile economies.

“I wanted to understand how the landscape had been shaped and to celebrate its character and visual impact.

“The journey from there to the book has been full of pleasures – in reading texts and studying maps in local and national archives, in exploring the landscape itself with an increasingly educated and discerning eye, in talking to neighbours with deep roots in the valley way of life.

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“It has been deeply rewarding to find the understandings that have allowed me to celebrate the strengths of such a strong purposeful valley.”

But, unlike many conventional histories, Rob’s book with its 90 photos and maps, all in colour, will also be useful for anyone planning a walk in the Colne Valley.

Perhaps not surprisingly, following the launch of his new book at the Colne Valley Museum in Golcar, Rob led a party of those who had attended the event on a walk across Scapegoat Hill.

Rob is also providing the latest in Huddersfield Local History Society’s programme of free recorded talks – The History of the Colne Valley Landscape – which will be available on the society’s website from Monday October 25.

David Griffiths, the society’s publications secretary, points out that Rob’s book is part of a very active publications programme and there are more books on the way.

He added: “The society now has a dozen books and booklets in print, on a wide range of aspects of Huddersfield history but this is our first venture into landscape history, and we’re delighted that Rob Vincent has given us this opportunity to extend our range.

“With the lockdown behind us, we’re now aiming to resume our programme of annual publications. Next in line will be a biography of the naturalist Seth Lister Mosley to mark next year’s centenary of the Tolson Museum, of which he was the first curator.”

Colne Valley: A History of a Pennine Landscape by Rob Vincent can be purchased for £11.95 from bookshops, the Colne Valley Museum and online at

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